A cavernoma is a vascular abnormality consisting of a cluster of abnormal vessels occurring within the central nervous system, often ranging from microscopic in size to a number of centimetres. A cavernoma is made up of small structures, caverns, filled with blood. The outer layer of these cells often ‘leaks’ or haemorrhages blood into the surrounding tissue. Cavernomas that have bled previously are more likely to bleed again, especially in the next 24 months after the initial bleed.
Although Cavernomas may have no symptoms, they can cause symptoms similar to having a stroke, seizures, haemorrhages and headaches in addition to neurological symptoms such as limb weakness, vision or balance problems, or memory and attention problems. They are also known as cavernous malformations, cerebral cavernous malformations(CCM), cavernous venous malformations (CVM) or cavernous angioma.
Around 1 in 200 people may have at least one cavernoma, but only 30% of those will develop symptoms during their lifetime. Cavernomas more often present in adults than children, with symptoms starting between 20-30 years of age.